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Friday, September 29, 2006

Good News For The Mississippi River Trail

Here's news that should interest fans of the Mississippi River Trail:

The Pontchartrain Levee District, a governmental entity responsible for flood protection in 6 parishes (counties) between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is funding a study to determine the feasibility of creating a paved, 122 mile bike path along the Mississippi River. If the path is created, it would tie into existing paved paths running atop the crown of the Mississippi River levee in metropolitan New Orleans and Baton Rouge, resulting in a paved bike path over 150 miles long.

This new trail would certainly be good news for the Southern Louisiana portion of the Mississippi River Trail. Here, long sections of the MRT are routed along highways with either marginal road surfaces, little to no shoulder or high traffic speeds. Currently, the MRT doesn't even go to Baton Rouge (Louisiana's state capitol, 2nd largest metro area & home to LSU).

Creating this paved trail and routing the MRT over it will provide hundreds of thousands of local residents with a safe & scenic place to walk, roller blade, jog or bike, improving the quality of life and increasing property values. The trail will also introduce revenue from bicycle tourists creating new jobs in small lodgings, restaurants, attractions and shops along the route. If you have any doubts, just look at what the Danube River Trail has done for rural Austria or what the Coeur d'Alenes Trail is doing in Northern Idaho.

As stated on the Federal Highway Administrations website, "bicycle and pedestrian projects are broadly eligible for funding from almost all the major Federal-aid highway, transit, safety, and other programs." With last year's enactment into law of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), more federal funding is available for bike trails than ever. Add to the equation the levee's importance to Homeland security and the potential the levee offers to be a safe route to schools in local communities along the route and it seems that funding for this project should be a slam dunk.

I encourage organizations such as Mississippi River Trail, Inc., the League of American Bicyclists, Adventure Cycling, Inc. and others to come together to help make this trail a reality.

Larry Lagarde
Ph: 504-324-2492
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

Let Bicyclists Ride National Park Trails

Without a doubt, the National Park Service (NPS) is my favorite governmental entity. Each time I visit a national park, I'm impressed with the Park Service's conservation of our wonderful natural resources. Hopefully, results of a recently completed study of mountain bike impact on trails will reverse the NPS ban of mountain bikes on trails, allowing future national park visits to be even more enjoyable.

In a collaborative project between Shimano, the Arizona State Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Arizona State University (ASU) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) studing the ecological and physical impacts of mountain bikes on 31 Western trails, researchers found that damage to trails from equestrians was greater than or equal to damage caused by mountain bikes. Researchers covered 185 miles of trail in habitats ranging from alpine to desert.

National Park superintendents from Texas to Washington, DC are already looking at allowing mountain bikes on trails; however, major parks like Grand Canyon, Smoky Mountain, Yellowstone & Yosemite regard bikes with virtually the same disdain they have towards motor cars, relegating bicycle usage to paved streets. As a result, vast swaths of parkland are essentially off limits to the average visitor because hiking a trail takes more time than is available.

Manchester, NH Mayor Advocates Bicycling

Calling it a quality of life issue, Manchester, New Hampshire Mayor Frank Guinta is making the expansion of bicycle trails a priority. Speaking at a neighborhood meeting this week the Mayor said, "(bike trails) connect people, make people proud of where they live."

Photo: Downtown Manchester at night.

As well I know, Tourists travel to some destinations specifically to ride bike trails too (ex: The Hiawatha Trail in Northern Idaho) so I invited the Mayor to update me when future expansion of Manchester's bike trails occur. For the record, here's what I wrote:

++++++++++++++++++ Start Of Letter ++++++++++++++++++

Honorable Mayor Guinta,

I read in the Union Leader that you are working to make Manchester more bicycle friendly.

To inspire more people to go cycling, I write about long distance bike trails and the benefits of cycling. If you or any other cycling advocates in your region have news concerning long distance bike trails, it would be my pleasure to report it to my large and growing audience of readers online.

I invite you to email me periodically with any updates (such as ribbon cuttings or construction starts on bike trails) or related photos. Please be sure to include a link to relevant websites with more information about the project(s) so I can provide that to readers wanting more info as well.

About Me
A lifelong resident of New Orleans, I've been bicycling and traveling for over 3 decades. I've bicycled tens of thousands of miles, biking solo & unassisted from Yellowstone to Las Vegas and cycling in various countries (UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Canada...). Currently, I'm working on a book titled "45 Great Places To Go Bicycling In North America." To gather material for the book, I'm traveling around North America riding & photographing bike trails. I expect to have sufficient information to complete the book in 3 years. Meanwhile, I offer a wealth of information about my bike tours online at world-class-bike-trails.blogspot.com.

++++++++++++++++++ End Of Letter ++++++++++++++++++

Let me know if there are efforts to improve bike trails in your community and I'll help promote those too.

Larry Lagarde
Ph: 504-324-2492
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

My Letter Supporting The Bicycle Commuter Act

Here is a copy of the letter I wrote this morning to the House Committee on Ways and Means in support of The Bicycle Commuter Act. If you'd like to support the Act, feel free to use my letter to create your own. For your reference, I've also included additional resources about the Act below.

+++++++++++++++ Letter Body Below +++++++++++++++
Honored Members of Congress,

H.R. 807 and S. 2636 are Bills that can make an immediate and positive impact on Americans and the U.S. economy.

Bicycles are an existing mode of transportation that consume no fossil fuels, generate no pollution and provide proven health benefits to their users. By enacting the Bicycle Commuter Act (H.R. 807 and S. 2636), commuters that use bicycles to get to work will receive tax credits to defray the costs of commuting by bike.

Voting the Bicycle Commuter Act into law will spur more commuters to bicycle to/from work, saving commuters on energy costs, reducing dependence on foreign oil, reducing obesity, improving cardiovascular and mental health, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and improving productivity in the workplace.

Given the Act's financial impact on federal revenue has been estimated by the Joint Committee on Taxation to be under $78M over 5 years, the benefits produced by voting into law H.R. 807 and S. 2636 will far outweigh the costs.

I encourage all Members of Congress to vote for this pro American legislation.


Lawrence Lagarde III
Bridge City, Louisiana

+++++++++++++++ Letter Body Above +++++++++++++++

Here are resources with more info about The Bicycle Commuter Act:
- League of American Bicyclists Fact Sheet
- My explanation of the Act
- The Bicycle Commuter Act Bill itself



Email Congress To Support Bicycle Commuting Now

The League of American Bicyclists contacted me this morning to keep pressure on Congress regarding the Bicycle Commuter Act, a bill before Congress that encourages consumers to use a bicycle to get to/from work. The Act has 55 sponsors in Congress bit there's a chance the House Committee on Ways and Means will kill the bill if they sense minimal public support.

The Bicycle Commuter Act is worthy of support by bicyclists as well as anyone interested in environmental responsibility. Congress is allowing public comment on the bill but only through October 10th.

Supporting the Act is both easy and quick (it took me 7 minutes). Simply write a letter, save it in either Word or WordPerfect, fill in a short form, then attach the letter you wrote to the confirmation email from Congress.

To get started, you can submit a letter to the Committee only by going to...

To read the letter I sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means this morning regarding the Bicycle Commuter Act or for more reference material regarding the Bill, go to...

By the way, here's the email I received from the League this morning:


Because you are an active advocate for bicycling, the League of American Bicyclists wanted to alert you that Congressman Dave Camp, Chair of the Ways and Means subcommittee on revenue measures held a hearing this past Tuesday to allow Members to testify on Bills they submitted containing tax provisions. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) testified in support of the Bicycle Commuter Act (H.R. 807 and S. 2636); to view his testimony, go to http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=view&id=5296.

Additionally, outside organizations also have the opportunity to submit written statements for the record. These statements will be accepted until October 10. Please visit http://capwiz.com/lab/issues/alert/?alertid=9056871&type=CU for instructions on how to submit comments supporting the Bicycle Commuter Act. To read the League of American Bicyclists’ fact sheet on the Bicycle Commuter Act, go to http://www.bikeleague.org/news/060606adv.php.

Thank you for everything you do for bicycling.

Sarah Stiles

League of American Bicyclists



Thursday, September 28, 2006

Coeur d'Alenes Trail - Lodging Report

Speaking of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, I received this note from Sandy Wiese, a rider I met while on the trail. Sandy and her husband where doing a multi day tour of the Coeur d'Alenes Trail so I asked her to send me some information about the inns where they stayed. Here's what she had to say.

"In Harrison we stayed at the Osprey Inn - a very nice B&B just minutes from the bike trail with great breakfasts and very nice rooms.

Off the Enaville Exit (sp) from the trail - we stayed at the Country Lane Inn. It is a six easy miles off the trail.

Plus: just across the road from the river and a decent swim hole over there, the owner is extremely nice and will rent you inner tubes and take you up river and you can float back to the Inn, the restaurant there is excellent - doesn't look it, but is very good. The public space downstairs at the B&B is great and would really work for a group. There is a washer and dryer. The owner will pick you up at the trail head if you want.

Less than Plus: There is a shared bath downstairs that accommodates four rooms and a single bed in the shared area. There is also a shared bath upstairs with a Jacuzzi tub - but is shared by all in house. Could be very crowded. One room, the Brass Room, is just larger than the kind sized bed and has no windows. It is more like being a guest in someone's home with them sharing the bath and shower with you than what I'm use to in a B&B."

While we're discussing lodging, I should also chime in on 2 excellent lodging choices:

>>In Spokane, WA: Holiday Inn Express On The Rock
The Inn on the Rock has an excellent location, great staff, clean rooms and great breakfast. They're just a block from the Spokane Centennial Trail and near to the Riverfront Park as well as the Convention Center and other attractions downtown.

>>In Wallace, ID: Wallace Inn
Just off the I-90 in Wallace with restaurant in house. Two stories (no elevator) with indoor heated pool, hot tub, dry sauna, weight/exercise room, full service restaurant and gift shop. Wi-fi internet in the main lobby. Guest lockers & fridge just off the main lobby with key access for cycling/ski equipment, left luggage. Also very friendly staff (Rick, the GM, knows local trails and is a serious mountain biker himself).

By the way, at my suggestion, Sandy & her hubby rode the Hiawatha Trail. Sandy reports that it was wonderful and they were glad they could fit it in.


Route of the Coeur d'Alenes Map & Photos

Here is a routemap from my ride on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Northern Idaho, a beautiful, 72 mile rails to trails project that was formerly among the largest Superfund hazardous waste sites in the USA . The map is incomplete at present but contains over 30 flags/waypoints, many with photos from my ride.

Along my tour of the trail, I saw deer, ospreys, a coyote, Canadian geese, horses, cattle, beautiful mountain vistas and so much more. Without a doubt, this is a premiere bike trail that begs riding. See for yourself right now by clicking on the trail map above and looking at my photos.


Biking Ukraine & Southern Russia

If you've ever considered bicycling in the former Soviet Union, here's a story that may stir you to action.

During 2006, brothers Mike and Bert Vermeulen bicycled 1,600 miles through Ukraine and Southern Russia. Their self-supported trip started at the Hungarian border and ended at the Volga River. Although the Vermeulen brothers brought camping gear, they ended up sleeping indoors each night - mostly in hotels. One night, they stayed with a young man they just met at a bus stop.

What did they ride? Bert cycled the five week trip on a Dahon folding bicycle. Mike had a Trek 520. Roads were rough at times, though in principle, paved.

Apparently, Russians and Ukrainians were very hospitable and somewhat curious about the trip. According to Mike, "where you from?" in Russian was frequently heard. The wedding photo shown here was taken one Saturday afternoon when a bridal party passed Bert and Mike, stopped, then invited the cyclists to join in toasting the new bride and groom. Knowing some Russian definitely helped, though smiles are universal.

Tourism to Ukraine is likely to increase in the next years as the country revised its visa requirements in 2005. Citizens of US, Canada and EU no longer need visas to visit Ukraine as tourists. New hotels are being built and cities such as Lviv are busy with renovations. Next few years may be a good time to visit Ukraine before other tourists discover it.

Thanks Mike for the great heads up on your bike tour. Russia & Ukraine sound like fascinating places to visit.

For more information about Mike's trip, visit his bike tour web journal at bikerussia.com/2006/

Sailboats, Folding Bikes & The Good Life

Although I don't get the chance often, I love to sail. Since starting RideTHISbike last year, I've come to learn that sailors find folding bikes quite useful for getting around when docked.

Here's a neat story I read on Cruising World from a couple living the good life aboard a 38' sailboat in Auckland, New Zealand. It doesn't have much to do with cycling but their story about life in the South Pacific makes fun reading.

Aye for Auckland!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Nova Scotia Bike Tour Photos

I received an email today from fellow distance cyclist Drew Bratton.

Drew recently returned from a solo tour of Nova Scotia and wanted to share his photos with other cyclists. About his tour, Drew writes "in August of this year I completed an 8 day trip to Nova Scotia... a culture that loves cyclists, beautiful roads, friendly people and awsome sea scapes."

Included in this post are 5 thumbnails from Drew's online photo gallery.

Drew covered 700 Km in 8 days. Temperatures were in the high 70's each day with only one day of rain during the tour.

If you'd like to see more of Drew's photos or larger versions of these, you can find them at KodakGallery.com

By the way, Drew plans to bicycle across America in February or March of 2007 following the Southern Tier route suggested by Adventure Cycling. Drew's also participating in Cross North Carolina, a 7 day/475 mile group ride across the state. A total of 900 riders are expected to participate.

If you're interested in joining his group of distance cyclists in their self contained tour, email him at apbratton at earthlink.net.

Here's to you, Drew. Happy trails.


For Partial Commutes, Use A Bike That Folds

Denver PostThis Sunday, the Denver Post published a list of 10 tips for readers wanting to commute by bike. Among those tips, one caught my eye: "Consider a partial commute."

To commute in part by bike, the story suggests that cyclists haul their bike via public transit or with their car. As a cyclist who has done both, take it from me; partial bike commutes are most practical when using a bike that folds.

A folding bike is far more likely to be accepted on public transit. Typically, standard sized bikes must be stored on a bike rack. Most racks on public transit have room for only 2 bikes. If those spaces are taken, riders of standard bikes are out of luck. Folding bikes don't apply to this rule. Just fold the bike and carry it aboard. Better yet, place your folding bike in a carry bag. Not only will your bike be anonymous; it won't get scratched.

Speaking of scratches, no matter how careful I was, transporting my old, standard sized bike on my car's bike rack without scratching either the bike or the car was impossible. The rack also dented my trunk lid. Another cyclist I know had a terribly embarrassing experience with her bike rack. The $2000+ carbon fiber bike she had borrowed from a friend fell off of her rack while driving down the interstate in Idaho. Apparently, the rack came loose from road vibrations.

Full size Montague MX folding mountain bike in the trunk of a subcompactMost folding bikes fit easily inside a car trunk, out of sight and out of the elements (see the adjacent photo of my full size, folding mountain bike in the trunk of a Ford subcompact). Store the bike in the car and, when conditions are good for commuting by bike, park the car, pull out the bike, unfold it in seconds & go. Since folding bikes can also be brought into most office buildings and placed beside your desk, bikes that fold deter theft. In fact, a case comes to mind in which a string of cars parked in Memphis with bike racks were burglarized while adjacent cars were not. Thieves knew that drivers of the cars with bike racks were participating in a group ride.

If you'd like to read the Denver Post's advice for commuting by bicycle, visit 10 tips to get your commute in gear. For bikes that are ideal for commuting, check out RideTHISbike.com.

Bike Trail Plans Worry Houston Homeowners

On Sunday, Houston TV station Channel 13 (KTRK) reported angst among residents of the Calgary Woods subdivision. A 3 mile segment of the 80 mile trail network planned for Houston goes through their neighborhood. Residents fear that the trail will bring unwanted traffic from outsiders to their area.

Although the story doesn't mention it, studies have proven that bike trails increase property values and improve rather than diminish quality of life. Let's hope that reason prevails and residents push aside their fears.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday Night Football Ride

Yesterday, with great fanfare, the New Orleans Saints played their first game since Hurricane Katrina in the Superdome. A Monday Night Football game, it was televised nationally so perhaps you saw it. I did too - partly on tv & partly on my bike.

The game had been hugely hyped locally for over a week. Even elementary & high schools diverted from their strict dress codes, asking parents (like us) to dress their kids in black & gold (the Saint's colors) for the day. At 5pm, when I saw the jubilant, Mardi Gras like crowds streaming to the Dome, I knew I had to be in that number. I watched the festivities a little longer, then saddled up for an unusual night ride into the city.

Using the incredible QuadStar bike light and battery set sent to me by Wayne Johnson at ElektroLumens, I set out on the Lakefront Bike Trail through Metaire. It was dusk and there was a stiff breeze off of the lake. In spots the wind caused the surf to wet the asphalt trail surface. I encountered a few couples strolling and another cyclist with a bike light. The QuadStar was so bright, he thought that I was a car approaching and was surprised to see a cyclist instead.

The trail bridge between the Causeway and the Bonnabel Boat Launch has reopened so I made it to the Jefferson/Orleans Parish line in no time. Riding along Old Hammond Highway into Lakeview, I only 3 cars passed me. At first, I thought this unusual as this is a highly trafficked route; however, light traffic was the norm for the entirety of the ride. Go Saints!

In Lakeview (where I grew up), I rode on Robert E. Lee Blvd to Milne, the followed Walker St behind Mt. Carmel High School for 9 blocks to Argonne Blvd, then headed South into the heart of the neighborhood (route map of this ride). Lakeview was one of the areas hardest hit by Katrina's floodwaters. Block after city block was dark and vacant with doors to some homes wide open; however, on average, it seemed as if about 1 home per block actually had lights on and cars in front. Slowly, the city is rising from the mold & muck.

Just as I approached the train tracks immediately South of I-610, Amtrak's Crescent from New York City rolled past me. I decided to race the train to Union Station. Since the train must back in prior to arriving, I knew I had a fighting chance.

I rode down Orleans Ave; not a car passed me. At Delgado University, night classes were being held. Two cars left the school parking lot hastily. No doubt, the drivers didn't want to miss the start of the game. I crossed City Park Ave and made an immediate right onto N. St. Patrick Street. At Bienville St. I turned left. Crowd cheers roared out of the open door of a local corner barroom.

I crossed Carrollton Ave. As far as the eye could see, only a smattering of headlights were visible. Passing Liuzza's, I didn't notice any activity. The hulking, dark building formerly known as Mercy Hospital loomed above my head sad and empty. There are still no plans to reopen it.

I made a quick jog onto Jefferson Davis Pkwy then turned left onto Canal St. A pedestrian slowed and stared quizzically. Was it the bright bike light or the fact that some nut was racing through the vacant streets on a bike? Who knows.

With the wind at my back, I flew down Canal Street. Below the interstate overpass at Claiborne Ave, a group of rice burner racers laughed. No doubt, they thought their noisy rocket bikes superior. Different strokes...

I turned onto Elk Place and made my final approach to the Dome. Charter buses were double parked on the street and there were noticeably more pedestrians. I turned right onto Poydras. The Dome was lit with dancing colored lights. Flood beams shot skyward. People were everywhere. (Game crowd photo screenshot from Nola.com, website for the local Times Picayune newspaper)

I dismounted the bike and pushed it up the walk ramp to the the Dome's pedestrian plaza. Scalpers were everywhere trying to sell tickets but the game had already started and the Dome was full. Were the tickets counterfeits? I took in the scene. A lot of people milled about aimlessly on the Plaza, not seeming to be in a rush to get inside. Perhaps like me, they just wanted to be part of the experience even though they had no tickets. I knew I was missing the game but I also knew I'd catch it later on TV. If you're not seeing it in person, what's the point whether you're seeing it live?

Since security didn't challenge me on the bike, I rode down the ramp back to the street then did a victory lap around the dome. All those folks inside yet just 1 car passed me.

I rode towards the Mississippi River on Girod St. At Baronne, the street was blocked with barricades and there was a party going on. A bar had rented a huge projection screen the size of 2 or 3 FEMA trailers and was showing the game. It was just the first quarter and the Saints were killing the Falcons. The shouts of excited Saints fans echoed for blocks. A trio of hotties in mini skirts balanced shakily on their stiletto heals and crossing the street with drinks in hand. They looked like high priced prostitutes but were probably just heading to/from a football party in the Warehouse District.

I turned onto St. Charles for my run Uptown to the Mississippi River Trail. I passed Lee Circle. A drunk yelled from the base of Robert E Lee's statue. Was he yelling at me, the statue (which faces the Dome defiantly with arms crossed) or some other, unseen drunk?

I passed local eateries and watering holes. Many a door was propped open to take in the 70 degree F fall air and low humidity. Every so often, a convoy of cars would pass me. A young guy and his cute, blond date crossed in front of me with their eyes focused on the TV screen in a bar to my right. At a high end restaurant on the Avenue, a guy sat alone eating dinner dressed in coat & tie.

At Audubon Park, there was an up tick of traffic. Classes were in session at Loyola University and cars were parked up & down the street. A driver waited double parked. Another driver sat with the motor running; noise of the game wafted out of the car's window. Reaching the junction of St. Charles Ave, Carrollton Ave & the River, people were being drawn into Cooter Brown's like a magnet. Crowd noises roared from this popular Tulane & Loyola U. hangout. I stormed up the levee. A car was on the bike path, attempting to maneuver into the very last parking spot for the bar.

I rode the asphalt bike path atop the Mississippi River levee. Although the bike trail is unlit, the trail ahead of me was bright thanks to the QuadStar. Where the high tension power lines from the power station at Nine Mile Point cross the Mississippi, the break in the tree line afforded an unobstructed river view. A towboat stood motionless midriver; the horn of another tugboat moaned deeply in the distance. Past the city's water intake, I passed a lone walker. From the rear, it looked like he was walking with his hands in his pants in an odd position. I passed him quite quickly.

I exited the MRT at Dodge Ave. just east of the Huey P. Long bridge, turning right at the end of the street & making my way to Central Ave. Approaching the set of 8 railroad tracks just below the Earhart Expressway, I heard a train whistle but none were in sight.

I crossed Airline and continued on Central towards West Metairie. Winding through the neighborhood, I played tag for a few blocks with a kid on a single speed Walmart bike. I was faster but he knew the local shortcuts.

Cycling into a 10 mph headwind, I started feeling fatigued in the last half mile of the ride. When I walked in, everyone said "where ya been?" I replied "there" and pointed to the TV screen showing the game. In between the games many commercial breaks, I relayed all that I'd seen.

By the way, the QuadStar performed flawlessly the entire ride & was virtually as bright at the end as it was at the beginning. And the Saints? They beat the Falcons, 23-3. It was a most excellent evening.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Arizona Trail & The American Discovery Trail

Recently, I've been looking at major trail rides for next year. Two great long distance trails I've been thinking about riding are the Arizona Trail (AZT) and the American Discovery Trail (ADT).

The AZT runs 800 miles across Arizona from the Mexican border (Coronado National Monument) to the Utah state line North of the Grand Canyon. The ADT runs 6,800 miles from California to Delaware. Both trails are meant primarily for hikers but are open to cyclists for much of their routes. Although both contain sections that are rideable by road bikes, long distances riders would be better off riding suspended mountain bikes on either trail.

I've contacted folks familiar with these trails for ride recommendations. Thus far, riding North on the AZT from the Mogollon Rim to Flagstaff looks intriguing. On the ADT, I'm thinking of riding the North Route West from Chicago into Iowa, dropping down into Missouri to catch the KATY Trail back to St. Louis, crossing the Chain of Rocks bridge into Illinois & riding Amtrak back to New Orleans.

Naturally, the ride on the AZT is longer but both rides would require careful planning. About the only section where the routing is sketchy is from Southern Iowa to either Kansas City or Sedalia (the closest point on the KATY to the ADT). Let's see if Caryn Giarratano (the Missouri Bike/Ped Coordinator) has any ideas.

By the way, thank you Tom Neenan for the 30 years you've devoted to seeing through so many rail trails in Iowa. Tom offered some advice on how to connect from the Northern to the Southern Tier of the ADT in Iowa & Missouri.

Other related links:
- AZT Mountain Bike Route Ground Truthing by Scott Morris and Lee Blackwell
- Descriptions of Mountain Bike Trail Rides in Eastern Arizona
- MountainBikeAZ.com's Trail Reviews
- Rene Hokan's MTB Trail Reviews (focused on Arizona's White Mtns)
- Arizona's White Mountains Loop Trail System
- The Tonto Forest's Cabin Loop Trail System


Friday, September 22, 2006

Bike Trip Photos On Flagr

This morning, Dave at Flagr.com wrote that they have fixed a bug that was preventing me from uploading my bike trip photos to their map interface.

I've just added a few photos to Flagr and my site from the most recent trip and have embedded a map interface on my page for the Route of the Hiawathas Trail.

I'll be adding more trip photos to the maps over the next 2 weeks as time allows.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Memorial Ride In Atlanta For Jenny Ewing

Just before we visited Atlanta this summer, a cyclist was murdered on the Silver Comet rail trail that runs West from Atlanta's Northwest suburbs to Alabama. Her name was Jenny Ewing.

I didn't know Jenny but her death struck a chord. For this reason, I was glad to hear that a memorial ride in Jenny's honor will take place on the trail. The ride begins on Saturday, September 23rd at 8:00 a.m. and there is likely to be a large crowd of cyclists participating.

I encourage any cyclists in Atlanta to make this ride (or a portion of it) if they can.

More info can be found at...


The Latest Doggie Fitness Fad: Folding Bikes

Dog shows are intensely competitive events where dog owners and trainers seek any edge they can find. It should come as no surprise, then, that folding bikes are becoming a common training tool.

Often, show competitors travel long distances to participate in a major dog show. Since show judges prize dogs that are in peak physical form, making the most of the limited exercise time available off the stage is critical. For this reason, more competitors are pulling folding bikes out of their cars or rv's and using their bicycle to trot their dogs.

Here's a link to some behind the scene photos at a recent dog competition.

Biking Through The Blues

Normally, I'm a very upbeat guy; however, fighting the challenges created by Hurricane Katrina had been wearing me down (to understand what I was going through, read USA TODAY'S "Voices of Katrina"). When I get blue, I go bicycling.

Since the double whammy of getting married & Hurricane Katrina, I've been bicycling as much as "circumstances" will allow - roughly 7-14 miles every 3rd day. While this is far less than the 28-35 miles I rode every other day before I got hitched, the reasons for the decreased mileage are more a function of increased responsibilities (see the photo above).

Time that I would have spent cycling was diverted to "more pressing" tasks. I got more done but also became edgy & irritable. Not liking what I saw, I realized that a radical change was required. In March, I committed to a huge project that's close to my heart and suits me well: 45 Great Places To Go Bicycling In North America.

The 45 Places project kicked off in earnest last month with rides in Tennessee on the Mississippi River Trail and in North Carolina on the dirt & slickrock trails of Dupont State Park. I've also just returned from a blockbuster trip in which I rode on Glacier National Park's Going to the Sun Highway as well as 3 incredibly awesome trails in the Pacific Northwest (Spokane Centennial, Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and the Route of the Hiawathas). Had health complications and weather allowed it, I would have rode in Chicago too.

The 45 Places project entails a variety of exciting challenges. Already, I have a lot of useful & uplifting info to share with you. In fact, I'm working now on a variety of stories from the project that will appear in newspapers and magazines across the country. Meanwhile, you can expect to see more of the day to day details of the project here, including trip photos and so much more.

Thanks for your interest and to all the wonderful people that have helped make this project a reality.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New Trail System Takes Shape In Iowa

Just received an email this morning from Duncan Brown about a great new series of trails in Iowa known as the Jefferson County Loop Trail System. Located in tiny Fairfield, Iowa (pop 9600), this series of crushed limestone biking/hiking trails runs through prairies, woodlands and wetlands, on old railroad corridors and over major bridges.

At present, 15 miles of the system are open and all 33 miles will be ready for bicyclists in about a year or so. According to Duncan, "(t)he segments completed now (on the North, West and East sides of the city) include a great bridge across the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks, another bridge across Cedar Creek, and a picturesque ride alongside two of our local lakes, a small forest, plus pastures and cropland." Duncan writes "I love biking over the trails, particularly the beautiful bridge across the BNSF RR, with architectural elements from the Loudon Equipment Co., which was in Fairfield."

Fairfield is about a two hours drive (West and South) from Davenport, Iowa and has been included on the route of RAGRBAI at least once. Fairfield is also on the route of Amtrak's California Zephyr, which stops 20 miles East of town in Mount Pleasant and was a former stop on the defunct Rock Island Line's Golden State Limited which ran from Los Angeles to Chicago until 1968.

More about the Jefferson County Loop Trail System:

My thanks go to Duncan Brown for his input on this trail.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Wisconsin Bike Trails Hold Promise

I've heard that Wisconsin is a great place for cycling. While scanning the web today for more info about specific trails there, I came across a story published this weekend in the Duluth News Tribune. Not only did the story offer info about 3 interesting trails (the Elroy-Sparta, Oak Leaf and Interurban Trails), but it also deepened my interest in riding in Wisconsin for the project to discover 45 Great Places To Go Bicycling In North America.

Network of bike trails spreads across Wisconsin

Cycling for fun, fitness & practicality.

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